Grassley: Time is Ticking to Pass Critical Coronavirus Aid Package
Mar 23, 2020
Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
Time is Ticking to Pass Critical Coronavirus Aid Package
Monday, March 23, 2020
America is suffering.
I don’t have to tell you the stories of personal hardship and loss because of this virus.
This serious health crisis is quickly becoming a serious economic crisis.
Through no fault of their own, American workers have been sidelined to fight the virus. And the economy is unraveling.
Every hour, more people are being laid off.
Every hour, more businesses are closing their doors.
Every hour, families are being forced to figure out how they are going to pay the bills.
This is a crisis. But you wouldn’t know it by watching the Senate Democrats drag their feet on much needed relief for Americans.
Not once, but twice now. They’ve filibustered a procedural vote just to allow us to debate the relief package. It’s a package that we’ve been working on in a bipartisan way for days now.
They’re blocking a bill that includes relief that we all agree is needed for the American people.
They say this wasn’t a bipartisan effort. Really? Then who was I sitting across from while negotiating around the clock for multiple days?
The fact is that we worked with Democrats on this bill. We worked in good faith together. And we included many provisions that they wanted.
In fact, many of my colleagues on the other side have come down here today to brag about the areas where we agree. These are provisions in this bill. But in the same breath, they call this bill partisan. That makes no sense.
They also claim that this bill contains so-called corporate bailouts and not enough funding for workers and health care providers.
Let’s look at the facts:
This bill would send $1,200 dollars to almost every American immediately.
It would send $2,400 to couples. Families would get $500 for each child. Immediately.
It expands unemployment insurance for those who are laid off. It beefs up the program with additional assistance and makes it available to more Americans than ever before.
And that’s just in the Finance Committee provisions.
It also includes assistance for businesses of all sizes. It keeps them afloat so folks have a job to go back to when we come out of this pandemic.
So don’t try to say this bill doesn’t help workers.
The bill also includes $100 billion for health care workers and helps to speed up delivery of treatments and potential vaccines.
So this bill also helps health professionals, too.
But it helps nobody as long as the Congress sits on our thumb.
My colleagues complain that this unprecedented aid package is not sufficient. It’s approaching $2 trillion, but that’s not enough.
They are saying it’s not enough help, so nobody gets any help.
I don’t understand it. We passed Phase One two weeks ago. We passed Phase Two last week. If we need Phase Four down the road, we can address it, but there’s no excuse for not delivering what we can today.
Instead, the Democrats are playing politics while the rest of the country suffers.
If you don’t think this is political, just look at the political wish list in the House’s proposal.
They want to erase the Postal Service debt.
They want to require same-day voter registration.
They want to saddle airlines with crippling new emissions standards.
They want to resurrect the Green New Deal while families lose their incomes.
My colleagues, now is just not the time. There will be plenty of opportunities to debate these policies later. But not now.
Just a few days ago, our bipartisan talks were going very well.
We made incredible progress over the course of a few days.
To my Democratic colleagues: Please put your swords away. Please focus on the task at hand. Please stop the delay tactics and politicking.
America needs us to deliver. Now’s not the time for more foot dragging and procedural delays.